Empire Records (1995)

Listening to This Crap is Guaranteed to Make You Sterile.

I again found myself bored and out of ideas, and that’s a situation that can only be solved by my Netflix instant queue.  I don’t really remember putting today’s movie in the queue, but seeing me got me to thinking about it.  This is a movie I’ve felt like I should see for a while now, but never really had anything resembling interest in watching it beyond seeing a couple of hot actresses on the cover of the movie.  I feel like the movie was a popular one, but seeing a movie based strictly on attractive actresses has backfired on me more than once.  When looking at Rotten Tomatoes, I find that the legit critics say this movie sucks the balls, but the average Joe loves the thing.  It’s time yet again to see if I can count myself amongst the legitimate critics by reviewing Empire Records, written by Carol Heikkinen, directed by Allan Moyle, and starring Rory Cochrane, Anthony LaPaglia, Liv Tyler, Renée Zellweger, Johnny Whitworth, Robin Tunney, Ethan Embry, Maxwell Caulfield, Debi Mazar, Brendan Sexton III, Coyote Shivers, Ben Bodé, and James Wills.

Joe (Anthony LaPaglia), the owner of a small record store called Empire Records, has selected one of his employees, Lucas (Rory Cochrane), to close the store by himself for the first time.  In response to the trust instilled in him, Lucas takes $9,000 from the night’s deposit and takes it to Atlantic City, where he promptly loses it all.  Joe needs to figure out how to react to this.  Also going on, a famous pop star named Rex Manning (Maxwell Caulfield) is coming to sign autographs at the store, a cashier named Corey (Liv Tyler) has decided to give herself to him, A.J. (Johnny Whitworth) decides he’s in love with Corey, they catch a shoplifter that only identifies himself as Warren Beatty (Brendan Sexton III), another employee named Deb (Robin Tunney) has tried to kill herself, employee Mark (Ethan Embry) is an idiot, and employee Gina (Renée Zellweger) is a slut.

YAY!  I’m a real critic!  This movie sucks.  I’m pretty sure it’s intentions were towards comedy, but it failed all the way through.  All it really managed to be was a collection of stories that weren’t that interesting from various Gen-Xers that work in a record store.  It’s kind of like Clerks if Kevin Smith wasn’t funny.  None of the various stories were ever interesting, and most of them got on my nerves.  The main story was the story between Lucas and Joe about the $9,000.  I started off annoyed with it because, as someone who has worked for many years in a similar industry, it’s stupid to let someone in the store after it’s closed.  Yeah, maybe that weird lady would buy something for $20, or maybe she could fuck off and come back the next day.  I guarantee there’s nothing that you “need” in that store, and your “wants” can wait.  I don’t know if it’s a sign of my slowly advancing age, but I sided with Joe towards the beginning of the movie.  This little dipshit stole $9,000!  I would probably beat the shit out of him, get him arrested, and probably fire Gina for thinking it was funny enough to make jokes about it.  You can fight the man from in prison, where you’ll actually be fighting the man away from your butthole.  But this movie is trying to have some Gen-X vibe to it, so he instead changes into a cool guy by the end of the movie and everything works out miraculously in the last 5 minutes.  The next big story was the Corey/Gina/AJ/Rex Manning story.  Corey wanted to fuck Rex, but when he was about to whip it out she left to go cry on the roof.  Then Corey calls Gina a slut (because she was).  As a slut, her only reaction to anything in life is to go and fuck someone, and that’s just happens to be Rex.  Then Corey and Gina get mad at each other, but their relationship is fixed when later Corey has a big revelation that she idolizes the slutbag for her free spirit … and free pussy, I suppose.  That’s a great message, and I thank you for being the one brave enough to tell it.  I don’t even know how the situation came up in the first place.  Rex Manning was clearly gay as he looked like the lovechild of Liberace and Rick Astley.  Also, no one in a self-respecting, hipster record store would have time to do anything but hate someone like Rex Manning.  The other big story in the movie was the suicidal Deb.  That story also wouldn’t have worked out well if I were around.  Right after she randomly shaved her head while looking in the mirror like Jodie Foster in the Accused, and then someone pointed out her wrapped up wrist from where she tried to slice, her side of the movie would be over.  I would’ve instantly written her off as an attention starved twat and recommended she try again with a better blade.  Either she would shut up or she would succeed.  Either way, I win.  The music in the movie was one of its few saving graces, but I would expect that from this kind of movie.  Otherwise, the only thing about the movie I enjoyed was the nostalgia of seeing a Super Nintendo and a first gen Gameboy in the movie.

Even the performances in the movie were hit or miss for me.  The people were either irritating or hot.  Sometimes both.  Rory Chochrane’s character was either cocky or stupid.  Possibly both, but definitely annoying.  As was Ethan Embry, but he was definitely playing it stupid.  I really liked Renée Zellweger in this movie, but only because it’s the first time I can remember ever thinking she was attractive.  I found her so attractive that I didn’t even really know it was her.  I thought it was Joey Lauren Adams without the annoying voice.  But she was really hot in the movie, and generally just wearing a really short skirt, or even less.  I did get a little annoyed with her character near the end when she was singing backup with the band on the roof of the record store, but only because she got all scared when the singer told her to take the lead.  Bitch, you were just singing in front of a crowd like 20 seconds ago.  What’s the difference?  Debi Mazar’s character was a source of irritation for me.  She’s a seemingly successful manager for Rex Manning, but she gets all embarrassed when the minimum wage fucks at a record store are laughing at her because she works for a joke like Rex Manning.  I would’ve laughed right back at them because I make so much more money working for a joke than they do in the respectable job of record monkey.  They take a different path.  They go all “Fight the man” on us and have her quit and decide she wants to date the owner of a record store.

I side with the critics on this one.  Empire Records is not a good movie.  It’s a disjointed and uninteresting story peppered with failed attempts at comedy, and serves only to show us today that people in ’95 thought Gen-X people were so cool.  We call them hipsters now and proceed to ignore and/or mock them.  The only things I really liked in this movie was that it was the only time I’ve ever found Renée Zellweger attractive, Liv Tyler continues to be attractive, and Robin Tunney is attractive for 12 seconds and then cuts her hair like Jodie Foster in the Accused.  Skip this movie, or at least explain to me why I should have liked it.  Because I don’t get it.  Empire Records gets “I tried to kill myself with a Lady Bic” out of “You deserved that.  You know that?”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m … Hungry

I had almost forgotten that I had promised to review one Avengers movie a month until the Avengers came out, but thankfully I remembered in time to fit this in to December. This month’s Avengers movie is the sequel to a movie I haven’t yet reviewed. I probably should’ve done them in order, but I wanted to watch this one ’cause it’s better. But, since this movie has all different actors in it and pretty much acts like the first movie never happened, it can easily be considered a standalone movie. It doesn’t even have a 2 in the title. And to prove that, I present you with the title of today’s movie, The Incredible Hulk, written by Zak Penn and Edward Harrison, directed by Louis Leterrier, and starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, and Christina Cabot, with cameos by Robert Downey Jr. and Rickson Gracie.

Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is hanging out in Brazil, working in a soda bottling plant while doing experiments with plants, watching Portuguese Sesame Street, and training in heart rate control with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Rickson Gracie. One day, he cuts his finger and the blood falls in one of the sodas. He has them shut it down as he cleans it up (probably telling them he’s got the AIDS), but he misses a drop that gets mixed in to one of the drinks, shipped to the US, and makes Stan Lee sick. General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) finds out about it and assembles a team lead by British Royal Marine Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to capture Banner. It doesn’t go well. Something happens and they lose Banner and find a giant green thing that kicks the crap out of them. But (SURPRISE!) Banner IS the giant green thing. Blonsky wants another crack at Banner so General Ross uses some Super Soldier Serum on Blonsky to ready him for their next encounter. Banner wakes up naked and confused in Guatemala. I’m beginning to think I may be the Hulk but, when you wake up naked and confused after becoming the Hulk, does your butt always hurt? Anyways, Banner decides that he needs some data from his ex-girlfriend (and daughter of the General), Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), so he goes back to New York to get it. This gives Blonsky his second chance at Banner, but it ends up with Blonsky getting kicked in the chest and all of his bones pulverized by the Hulk. Now back on the run with Betty, Banner has to meet up with his last chance to get cured, his contact Mr. Blue, Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson). But the danger of General Ross and Blonsky is still looming.

After the events of the first Hulk movie, I admit that I was a little bit disappointed. I was nowhere near as disappointed as most people seemed to be about it, but it certainly wasn’t the Hulk movie the world was looking for. It was kind of a slow, artsy, touchy-feely Hulk movie and, if you’re familiar with the Hulk character, you’re probably looking more for a movie with a lot of anger and smashing. That’s where this movie came in, because it WAS the type of Hulk movie we were wanting. A little bit of story is nice, but you really just want to see the Hulk smash some faces, and this movie delivers on that. Unlike the first Hulk move that took 55 minutes to even show us the Hulk (yes, I timed it), this one gets you to it in a clean 20 minutes or so. The Hulk shows up to wreak some havoc TWICE in 50 minutes, and that’s the kind of thing I like out of a movie with the guy’s name as the title. The basic story of the movie was a little simple, but worked for this movie. It was Banner’s usual desire to be free of the Hulk, General Ross’ desire to use the Hulk for military gain, and Blonsky’s jealousy of the Hulk. But all of these story elements mainly served to get us to the next time that the Hulk could smash some things. The main story element of the movie didn’t make sense until a little over halfway into the film. Why would anyone want to be free of the Hulk? Some dudes are picking on you but you’re too wimpy to do anything and then OOPS! You got too angry and they’re being taken away in an ambulance. The army is after you but UH OH! One of the soldiers tackled your girlfriend and now needs to have his car repeatedly smashed into some sculpture thing. But then they showed us why he wanted to be rid of the Hulk: he couldn’t get busy with Liv Tyler because it made his heart race too much. I’m with you now, Banner, let’s go see that weird guy about getting ourselves cured. On a similar note, how many super hot chicks are working in bottling factories down in Brazil? ‘Cause there was at least one in this movie and, if that’s a fact, I think it’s time for a relocation and career change for good ole Robert.

Where the story is perhaps a bit lacking, it’s made up for by exciting, badass action scenes. They really captured the Hulk in this movie. This dude is pissed, but he really just wants to be left alone, and that’s what the Hulk is all about. After he’s punished the people that initially made him get pissed enough to turn into the Hulk, he’s ready to walk away … until someone else shoots at him … then he throws a forklift at them or pummels them with half of a police car on each fist like boxing gloves. I also appreciated that the Hulk remained a creature of few words. He’s not usually articulate or anything, but in the comics he can tend to go on about how “The Hulk is the strongest one there is” and “Hulk hates puny Banner”, but in this movie he maybe spoke twice; once to say “Betty”, and once to give us a well-timed “Hulk smash!” Keeping the words he speaks minimal as they did makes it so much more awesome when he finally says those words, especially since he follows it up by choking out another giant CG creature. I also loved how they initially introduced us to the Hulk in this movie. They didn’t show him outright, only parts of him at a time, hidden in shadows, and some good silhouette work, like when they threw a grenade and it blew up behind him, but you only saw his silhouette in the orange cloud.

I don’t understand how the Hulk movies can’t keep any of their principle actors around. Though I thought Eric Bana did a fine job, I did think it was a nice upgrade to go to Edward Norton, even if the Hulk never told the Abomination to “bite the curb”. I did think that Liv Tyler was a bit of a step down. Liv Tyler is a fine actress, and a very attractive one at that, but I dig on Jennifer Connelly more. William Hurt was an even bigger step down for me, not because Hurt did a bad job, but Sam Elliot is so much more awesome. Sam Elliot trained THE Dalton in how to whoop ass down at the Double Deuce. That guy could’ve told us all kinds of stories about The Dude … who turns green and kicks people in the chest. Tim Roth was really good in this as well. He’s mostly a composed, by the book military guy, but you can tell he’s got that “I’m macho and I don’t like getting beaten” thing going on in the background, leading him to want more and more power and eventually turning him into an/the Abomination. The cameos in this (and most Marvel movies) are pretty sweet. You have the obvious and big one of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark coming in at the end talking about some team he wants to assemble. Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee show up again, as they did in the first Hulk movie. You’ve got a real life Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert training Banner in Rickson Gracie. Bill Bixby even shows up on a TV at one point. Not quite as awesome and X-Men: First Class’s cameos, but real solid.

No one would consider this movie a perfect movie, and I don’t even think I’d go so far as to say it’s the perfect Hulk movie, but it’s the best we’ve had so far. They don’t waste a lot of time with setup and story because they want to show a different side of the Hulk. This movie isn’t called “Bruce Banner” for a reason: because it’s about the Hulk. That giant, green, smash-machine. So instead of overdoing the story, they just give us lots of good action, and that’s what I wanted. I wish Norton was still the Hulk, and I kind of liked Connelly and Elliot better than Tyler and Hurt, but the performances were all very solid. Of course I own this movie on BluRay. I own Ghost Rider, for crying out loud! But I think you’ll enjoy this Hulk movie. If you didn’t see it because the first one scared you off, don’t worry. They did this one right. The Incredible Hulk gets “Mas stretchy” out of “Ready for round three”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Super (2010)

Shut up, Crime!

Podcasts had lead me to this movie that I may have only seen on my own because of one of the female stars and my infatuation with her. It didn’t seem like a movie that interested me even though I’m so big into superheros, but the podcasts that I heard it on talked me into it. So, let’s get into my review of the movie Super, written and directed by James Gunn, and starring Rainn Wilson, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, the love of my life Ellen Page, Michael Rooker, Nathan Fillion, and Linda Cardellini.

Frank D’Arbo (Rainn Wilson) has not had a fantastic life. One of the few perfect moments in his life is when he married his lovely wife Sarah (Liv Tyler). That doesn’t really last long. See, Sarah is a recovering alcoholic and addict, and she eventually leaves Frank for Jacques (Kevin Bacon), her drug pusher. Depressed, Frank has a vision where he’s touched by the finger of God himself after watching a show starring the Holy Avenger (Nathan Fillion), a public-access religious superhero. He goes to his local comic book store for research on superheroes, where he meets Libby (Ellen Page). He creates a costume and becomes “The Crimson Bolt”, armed mainly with a big wrench that he uses to savagely beat people that break the law. Eventually he gets shot in the leg and has no choice but to go to Libby for help. She decides to become his sidekick, Boltie … and later rapes him. Then they must up their arsenal to take down Jacques and win back Sarah.

I dug all up into this movie. Not only is it a movie about a real life dude becoming a superhero (something that I’ve always wanted to do but was stopped by my laziness and aversion to pain, and also something I’ve written a short story about before), but it had a great comedy side, a great action side, and a great drama side to it. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this movie. Rainn Wilson’s depression over the loss of his wife was both sad and often humorous. It had great realistic action and some pretty awesome violent effects. From what little I knew about James Gunn’s previous movies, I figured he’d have more of a Troma movie vibe to him, where the violence is the reason for the movie and the story is secondary or worse, but this movie had a great story and the violence was only there to support the story. Most of the reviews I read for this movie completely disagree with me, but I find that happens fairly often with movies and that’s probably the inspiration for this entire review site. And it ties it all up with a nice touching message. I digs it.

The performances were even better than the story. I only knew Rainn Wilson for his comedy ability from the Office, where he was fantastic, but he’s got some acting chops that I was happy to see here. And I know he’s got acting chops because, at one point, he gets raped by Ellen Page and has to act like that’s not awesome. I couldn’t act like that. After a terrible loss suffered by his character near the end of the movie, he becomes a bona fide bad ass and wreaks all kind of Hell all over crime’s face, getting pretty damned un-Batman while he’s at it. I’ve never seen Liv Tyler act like a druggie before, and this was a great departure for her as well. I would posit she perhaps learned something from her dad on this, but that is just being rude of me. Kevin Bacon was awesome as well. He was the major antagonist of this movie; being the drug pusher that took Rainn’s wife and other such dick movies, but he was still really charming and somehow likeable. Ellen Page is the love of my life. …I guess I should say more. Her character called for her to be a female me. And she managed to do that without actually meeting me, which is how she’s still unmarried. She had a childlike innocence that has been sucked out of me long ago, and she would go completely manic when it was time to fight crime because she had idolized superheros for so long. That might could be me. And the girl friggin’ rapes a guy! I’ve only seen Demi Moore do that! Also, she “snikt’s” a guy! I want to be able to “Snikt!” It was nice to see Michael Rooker again, since I haven’t seen the guy since Mallrats, but his part is pretty small. I loves me some Nathon Fillion as well, and though his part in this movie is relatively small, it’s pivotal and pretty damn funny to boot.

Other critics can suck it. I dug this movie. I got it from Netflix and I recommend you do the same. Sadly it’s not available for streaming, but get it in the mail. Otherwise you can probably find it at RedBox by now. Give it a watch, says I. Me? I’m buyin’ this shit. I give this movie “That’s what happens in between the panels” out of “It’s all gooshy”.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.